Songs of the Sea
Last updated: 22.11.19
Printed: 1977 Author: Stan Hugill
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies ISBN: 0070311382
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Hardcover, usually dispatched within 1 to 2 working days
Publisher's blurb
"Life was short, brutal, lonely and joyless for the 'jolly tar', except for strong drink, women - and the solace of song. So he sang: short, rhythmic, onomatopoeic chants to time his backbreaking work at capstan and halyard, the famous 'shanties'. Or longer, ribald or forlorn ditties for idle moments, called 'forebitters' after the metal bollards on the fo'c's'le head. He sang bravura songs when outward bound; yearning, sexier songs for the homeward reach; warning songs of pirates, press gangs, and faithless maidens; and songs of admiration for the likes of such sailors as ' Bold MacCarteney'. And here they are, the authentic words and music of more than a hundred sea songs and chants in half a dozen languages. Some are as old as the mists of time, some as new as the great steel-hulled four-masters in the nitrate run s of the 1890s..To describe and interpret that history, the book begins with an illustrated look at the sailors' varied machines: ships, brigs, barks, schooners, sloops and so on - and their marvelously complex riggings. There is a handy glossary of terms and vernacular, and many clear explanations of customs and language, from the above-mentioned forebitters to the gruesome 'Nelson's Blood' and the ever-present 'Armstrong's Patent' - the muscle power that made everything go. The sailor's skills, dress, pay, superstitions, drink, food - and loves - are clearly described and pictured. There are anecdotes galore: stories of shanghaiing and mutiny, shipwreck and cannibalism, storms and tropical isles. Every song is translated into English (and cleaned up a bit) where necessary, and accompanied by a brief history of its origins and its travels from country to country. But try singing the original words in French or Dutch or even (Swedish or Norwegian), if only for their wonderful rhythms."
Personal remarks:
This is a beautiful book. I really admire and appreciate the illustrations and non-English sea songs, A great book to quote from.